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Painting: Expand Your Space

How many times have you wanted to elevate the feel of a room but thought you couldn’t due to budgetary constrictions, spatial confinement within the four walls of the structure that you cannot renovate, or rental restraint (it’s not your pad, so you’re either prohibited from drastically altering the space or you don’t want to heavily contribute to someone else’s investment ñ besides, rent’s enough of a contribution as it is)?

The truth is that it doesn’t take much to kick your décor up a notch…if you have the right tools and know-how. And yes, many of those techniques involve little more than a humble can of paint and some inexpensive paint supplies.

Indeed, many folks know that applying a fresh coat of paint is a fast and easy way to brighten up a room and erase years of wear and tear from a wall’s surface. But what about going a step further and trying some cool, almost magical, optical illusions using the same tools?

Even if you have problematic surfaces or skimpy trim, you too can achieve the same high-end looks for less. Here are a couple of projects that highlight the power of paint while minimizing your less-than-ideal structural components.

Smooth Sailing

If you have textured walls or walls that are supposed to be smooth but were cheapened by shoddy workmanship on the part of the drywall “professional”, does that mean you’re doomed to a life without crisp, clean paint lines?

You shouldn’t have to say “see you later” to sharp edges and the freedom to paint designs or patterns on your wall just because they are not exactly up to smooth surface snuff.

Fortunately, a couple of paint’s buddies agree with you: all you need are painter’s tape and paintable caulking to create a smooth enough surface on your wall to where you can wave goodbye to bumpy edges and wavy lines.

Simply apply the painter’s tape to the wall where you want to paint your lines, apply a miniscule bead of caulking right over the edge of the tape and smooth it out with a wet finger. Be ready to go with your paint and paint over the tape and caulk so that you can remove the tape before the caulk (and accompanying coat of paint) dries.

Build it Bigger

Don’t put away that caulk gun just yet because you’ll need it for the next optical illusion: creating taller baseboards without replacing a single piece of trim.

Short baseboards are better than no baseboards at all but let’s face it, taller baseboards are best! And they are completely within your grasp.

You’ll need a:

  • Flat piece of wood (measuring about an inch wide) to use as a spacer
  • Top piece of moulding or trim to match the existing bottom trim, in sufficient linear footage to span the entire room of baseboards you are planning to build up
  • Nail gun
  • Caulk gun
  • White paint for the finished product ñ a bright white, semi-gloss is a great choice to make your baseboards really pop

Measure and cut each piece of moulding or trim in the appropriate length, with 45 degree miter cuts for virtually seamless edges and corners.

Use the spacer and rest it upon the top of the existing baseboard; work your way around the room to mark 1″ guide lines around the perimeter.

Attach the top trim to the wall with the nail gun at the 1″ marks ñ from here you should have an empty wall space of 1″ in between the new trim and existing baseboards.

Apply caulk to fill in the nail holes and the gaps in between mitered joints.

Once it dries, paint the newly exaggerated baseboard in its entirety (including the wall gap) to create an awesome optical illusion of super tall baseboards!

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